Hungry in Vancouver

img_6403We try not to repeat restaurants on holiday, but sometimes you find a place so good you simply have to go back — Miku and Kirin are two such places.

Miku offers amazing aburi sushi, or sear-flamed sushi. Hubs and I both got the premium sushi lunch and also shared an extra order of salmon oshi sushi. It was every bit as good as the last time. Little mum had the “Miku Zen” as she’s not that keen on raw fish and it proved to be a perfect balance of cooked dishes and sushi.

If you decide to try Kirin Restaurant be sure to have reservations, as the restaurant is incredibly popular amongst visitors and locals alike. It is arguably the best Chinese seafood restaurant in the Vancouver area. We haven’t had one dish there that hasn’t been amazing, and although the restaurant is insanely busy the staff are all incredibly on point. The deep fried crab is our absolute favourite.

If you aren’t able to get a reservation at Kirin, another very good alternative is Sun Sui Wah Seafood Restaurant (the spotted prawns above are from SSW). The style of cooking is similar to Kirin but at an ever-so-slightly lower price-point.

I was a little skeptical about eating on Granville Island, but I’m glad we ended our quick jaunt through Vancouver at The Sandbar Seafood Restaurant (hmm…can you tell we’re massive fans of seafood?). We were all happy with the great view and beautifully prepared fish. Not to mention, their clam chowder was surprisingly nomworthy — the best we’ve had outside of San Francisco (Sam’s Chowder House is still the best).


Monkey Does Vancouver (Part Deux)

Nearly 2 years since our salmon fishing adventure, we finally returned to Vancouver for a taste of summer in beautiful British Columbia. We were blessed with some gorgeous weather (apparently it had been a bit gloomy before we arrived) and enjoyed a stroll around Stanley Park and Canada Place, where we experienced FlyOver Canada, this time with lil’ mum in tow. FlyOver was as exhilarating and magnificent as the first time and got me and hub hub all choked up.img_6299img_6305We also added Vancouver Lookout to our itinerary, which concluded all of the touristy stuff we could handle in one visit. One ticket gives you multiple entries to the tower so we were able to get both great day and night views (sadly we don’t have a proper camera at the moment so you’ll have to make do with my iPhone6 pics).

We visited various parks around North and West Vancouver–a little beach action at Ambleside Park and a tree-covered hike and scenic views at Lighthouse Park.

On another day we visited Whistler, BC, so Monkey can finally say he visited Olympic Village. On the drive up we saw rainbows and waterfalls and tried to imagine the area covered in snow (it was so hot and humid we nearly melted). We simply couldn’t get enough of all the natural beauty. Thank you Canada for being so lovely and welcoming as always!



A Taste of France 

I wish I could say that we just returned from a cheeky holiday in Paris, but when you cannot visit the places you love the second best thing is to bring the colours and flavours of those places to your doorstep. I’m actually not a fan of macarons — the few times I’ve had them from Ladurée they’ve been ‘nice’ but still just too sweet for my liking. That said, I have a penchant for things in pretty packages so I was excited to discover that Ladurée had made its way to Vancouver, BC.

Although I was a bit surprised at the scant selection of sweet treats (other than macarons) available in store I was happy to come away with a beautiful box of chocolate-covered macarons, which have since proven to be worth every moment on the lips. I highly recommend these as gifts since we all know macarons don’t keep for more than a day and the chocolate-covered macarons travel quite well. They’re much less sweet than fresh macarons and the balance between the chocolate shell and filling is just marvelous! Can you tell I’ll be ordering more come Christmas?

Do you have a favourite chocolatier or patisserie? Another go-to for me is La Maison du Chocolat, but I would love to expand my horizons.


Monkey Does Vancouver

Taro, aka Monkey, made a new friend while we were in Vancouver. His name is Jiro, which means ‘second son’ in Japanese. We spent most of our free time walking around Canada Place and Stanley Park while the weather was nice. On our last day, which happened to be the first rainy day of our trip, we visited Vancouver Aquarium (inside Stanley Park)–it was much smaller than I expected. We also went on a touristy (but worthy of your time and money) flight simulation ride, FlyOver Canada. We don’t normally do touristy things (although I do love tourist tat) but this was by far the best tourist attractions we’ve ever experienced. It was totally unexpected and we’d totally do it again. Every country should have something like this to showcase the best of what they have to offer!

Fraser River Adventure

Earlier in October we went on holiday with a few friends to Vancouver and tried our hand at salmon fishing in Fraser River. We had heard about the estimated 72 million salmon that would be travelling through the river and wanted to see it with our own eyes, but we missed most of the action by the time we got out there. We’d been planning the trip since August but all the fishing tours were booked until October.

IMG_5345Having had no prior experience with angling, we spent most of the morning learning how to cast a fishing rod. Quite frankly, we were all rubbish. But it was fun learning a new skill and Monkey even had a go! I have so much respect for true outdoorsmen. It seems not only do you need skill but also a lot of patience and perseverance, especially when it comes to fishing.

IMG_5346Suddenly, just as we were about to give up, one of our mates caught a chum salmon. We had been out on the river for 9 hours, feeling cold and slightly dejected (I could tell the boys were a bit bummed) and it had started to rain. We had the intention of letting the fish go, but unfortunately KS didn’t have a strong enough hold on the fish and the poor fellow slipped out and fell splat against some rocks and started to bleed out. I’ll spare you the photos (actually, I couldn’t bring myself to take any of the dying fish).


All in all, it was a wonderful experience. We had cheerful weather for most of the day and none of us got washed away by the heavy currents. Not that we’ve given up on angling, but perhaps when travelling that far, skip the fishing and just go for the nature!

A Taste of Vancouver

It’s official, I’m in love with Canada. Although we’ve only seen glimpses of the country, from the Northwest Territories to British Columbia, each region has it’s own unique expanses of beautiful, unaltered nature to show off to the world. And then there’s the food. Although Yellowknife was limited in what it could offer, the local fish and game more than made up for what it lacked.

Vancouver is heaven for foodies–offering some of the best culinary delights from around the world–especially Chinese cuisine, which some may argue is better than what you can find in Hong Kong or China. We certainly enjoyed our share of Japanese, Chinese, and Canadian cuisine, not to mention boxes and boxes of maple cream biscuits!

First stop: Miku offers amazing aburi sushi, or sear-flamed sushi. We all had the premium sushi lunch and shared a couple of starters. The salmon and saba oshi sushi were my favourite.

Next stop: Kirin Restaurant. A note of caution before selecting anything that is listed as ‘Market Price’ or simply ‘MP’. Ask what it is unless you want your jaw to drop at the end of the meal. We were so excited to try the local geoduck, which they prepared for us two ways (blanched with dipping sauces and geoduck porridge), but were utterly shocked when we received the bill. Try $140CAD just for the geoduck alone!

Last stop: The Flying Pig. Salmon fishing is fun but there’s nothing better than tucking into a lovely tasting of local salmon when you’re not able to catch your own. The Flying Pig offers much more than pork. In fact, it doesn’t actually have that much pork on the menu. Their poutine, aka Canada’s national dish, was also very tasty!


The Magnificent Aurora Borealis

There has been a lot of solar activity these past few weeks, making me wish we were back in Yellowknife, NWT, Canada (oh yeah, that’s where we’ve been lately) or in Iceland to see the aurora dancing over the erupting Fimmvörðuháls volcano. I’m still on an aurora high and am so grateful that we were able to see the northern lights four out of the six nights that we were out aurora hunting. Here are some images from the first night–our very first northern lights show.

Shimmering arcs and waves of light—glowing different shades of blue or green—dance and sweep their way across the dark sky. No words can describe how humbled and moved I am to have had the opportunity to gaze up, hand in hand with the hubs, at such a beautiful and spectacular show. It goes without saying that no picture could do the lights any justice—you must simply see them with your own eyes. More to come: watch this space.

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Spectacular Northwest Territories

Yellowknife, NWT, Canada. Until V told us about it, I couldn’t even place it on a map. Home to approximately 21,000 people and ranking 35th in Money Sense’s list of Canada’s Best Places to Live 2014, it’s arguably one of the best locations in the world to view the aurora borealis. It’s also apparently “The Diamond Capital of North America”. Not to mention, there are beautiful hiking trails and great fishing spots and is one of the featured locations in the show Ice Road Truckers.

Scenery along highway 4, known more commonly as the Ingraham Trail, extends from Yellowknife, Northwest Territories to Tibbitt Lake, approximately 70 km east of Yellowknife.

Scenery along highway 4, known more commonly as the Ingraham Trail, extends from Yellowknife, Northwest Territories to Tibbitt Lake, approximately 70 km east of Yellowknife.

I’ll admit I was unprepared for how small the ‘city’ was and having not been fully prepared for the trip (this was probably the first holiday we’ve been on without actually planning anything), it was a bit of a shock to the system. How did we end up holidaying in Podunk?!

Spectacular Northwest Territories

The downtown area consists of a handful of restaurants, hotels, one tiny visitor’s centre, a Shoppers Drug Mart (think Boots), and an Independent Grocer. To put things into perspective, I used to think Guildford was tiny (having moved from London), but it at least has everything a girl could want in terms of shopping. That said, the more time we spent exploring Yellowknife, the more I appreciated the simplicity of life there. Old Town has some interesting galleries and a bistro with a lot of character that serves amazing local fish.

Bullock's BistroThe south side of town has a Walmart, a string of petrol stations, a larger Independent Grocers, a Co-op and Tim Hortons! I had heard about ‘Timmies’ and was happy to finally try my very own maple donut (although I must say I much prefer American donuts–they’re a lot fluffier and not as dense).

Tim Hortons

There is a considerable Inuit population in Yellowknife and I loved seeing signs in Inuktitut, English and French. Monkey loved finding Inuksuks everywhere, as well. Yellowknife may not be your typical holiday spot, but an aurora holiday is a unique experience and we would definitely recommend making Yellowknife your destination for it (especially if you don’t like the idea of freezing in -30ºC weather). There aren’t many places in the world where you can see the northern lights in late August/early September, which seems to be the time to visit. The people we met were all so lovely and the locals were all so helpful–we will definitely consider returning to see the northern lights in Yellowknife again.

Monkey Inuksuk